Our two love interests are Patrice and Easton. Patrice is an immigrant from Haiti who works as a professor at Cornell. He's a political activist and has a huge following on Twitter. Easton, on the other hand, is white and rich and works as an ADA (assistant district attorney). They had a hot hookup once but then things fell apart. Now they're getting back together but their relationship is already on the rocks: Patrice is outraged by police stops in the area targeting men of color, and Easton doesn't want to rock the boat and compromise his position by making too much noise. They dance around the issue, but as the relationship-- and the stops-- get more serious, something has to give.
I thought this book did a really good job talking about racism-- institutional racism and racism at the individual level. The microaggressions from Easton's family are a disgusting reminder that sometimes white people need to seriously reevaluate the vocabulary they employ when talking to PoCs and break out of their toxic mindsets in the way they think about and view people of color. The police stops were also really well done. When Patrice got stopped, my heart was in my throat and I was ready to cry. It was so intense and could be potentially triggering for some readers, I think. I loved Patrice's Tweets on Black Twitter, and how supportive the department head was in his passion for change.
The things I didn't like-- honestly? The relationship between these two. In book one, I could see where Jude and Nesto were both coming from. Here, I could see where Patrice was coming from. But even though Easton acknowledged his privilege and tried to do better, I felt like his fallback decision was to not do a thing. Standing silently by while his parents insult his boyfriend and only getting involved in the stops when his boyfriend was targeted by them were not the best ally or boyfriend behaviors (I mean, even when his boyfriend's young friends were targeted, the man still didn't hustle). It also really upset me when one of Easton's friends tells Patrice to stop being so "sanctimonious" and "angry." Calling black people "angry" is always a serious microaggression, but especially when it's justified, and I actually felt a little sick in side when Patrice apologizes to Easton. It felt wrong.
I'm giving this a three because parts of this book were done really well, and I loved Patrice as a character, but I really didn't care much for Easton as the love interest and unlike Jude from book one, I don't really feel that his character arc developed quite as significantly. Also-- the whole thing with Brad?? Where was the comeuppance for that? At least the Karen of the first book got publicly castigated and shamed, and had to go on leave at work. Unless I missed it, Male Karen wasn't really dealt the shaming he deserved here. But the difficult issues of police bias and racism themselves were handled really well here and I loved how the author dedicated her book to the protestors, and Patrice, and Ari and Yin are great. The author seriously needs to make a young adult/new adult spin-off about those two, I'd pick it up in a heartbeat. They are so pure and adorable. So even though there were things I didn't like, I really can't be mad. There was a lot to like in this book and it kept me reading.
Also, for more resources about Black Lives Matter and how to get involved, please check out the website blacklivesmatter.com.
3 out of 5 stars